Watch Live As Earth Loses Its 'Mini-Moon' 2020 SO: 'See It While You Can'

Tonight, you will be able to watch a live stream of an artificial "mini-moon" as it makes one final close approach to Earth before leaving the orbit of our planet.

The object, known as 2020 SO, is not natural in origin but man-made. In fact, astronomers say it is actually a piece of space junk—a rocket part built in the 1960s for a doomed NASA mission.

On February 1, this rocket stage will come "very close" to our planet, according to astronomer Gianluca Masi from the Virtual Telescope Project (VTP.)

The VTP will be showing a live stream of the object as it flies past the Earth, with the feed beginning at 3 p.m. ET. Head over to the VTP website to check out the footage, which will be provided by the project's robotic telescopes in central Italy.

2020 SO was discovered on September 17, 2020, by the 71-inch Pan-STARRS1 telescope atop Mount Haleakalā on the island of Maui, Hawaii. In November, it was temporarily captured by the Earth's gravity, bringing the rocket stage into the planet's orbit.

Computer modelling shows that 2020 SO will remain in orbit around the Earth as a temporary satellite until March 7, 2021—at which point it will escape the clutches of our planet and enter into a new orbit around the sun.

It is not currently clear when or if the object will return again, but amateur astronomer Bob King writing for the Duluth News Tribune said it was a possibility, urging people to "see it while you can!"

During its latest close approach, 2020 SO will come within around 139,500 miles of our planet. This is actually the second of two recent close flybys. On December 1, 2020 SO made an "extremely close" approach, coming within 31,605 miles of our planet—which is equivalent to around 13 percent of the average Earth-moon distance—Masi previously told Newsweek.

"After its extremely close fly-by last December, 2020 SO is safely coming very close again, this time to say farewell," Masi wrote on the Virtual Telescope Project (VTP) website.

"As we know, it is the booster of the Surveyor 2 space mission, which was temporarily captured by our planet. Soon, this artificial mini-moon will leave our neighborhood, escaping into a new orbit around the sun."

The Surveyor 2 NASA mission launched on September 20, 1966 from Cape Kennedy, Florida aboard an Atlas-Centaur rocket. The aim was to explore the lunar surface with a robotic lander.

But mission operators lost control with the spacecraft due to technical problems, resulting in the failure of the mission. The rocket stage, however, remained in space for decades before it was eventually captured by Earth's orbit.

The Earth from space
Part of the Earth is seen in this image photographed by a crew member aboard the space shuttle Atlantis on May 15, 2010. NASA via Getty Images